International Crisis Behavior Project, 1918-2004 (ICPSR 9286)

Version Date: Dec 14, 2007 View help for published

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Michael Brecher, McGill University; Jonathan Wilkenfeld, University of Maryland

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This data collection was produced as part of the International Crisis Behavior Project, a research effort aimed at investigating 20th-century interstate crises and the behavior of states under externally generated stress. To this end, the data describe, over a 86-year period, the sources, processes, and outcomes of all military-security crises involving states. Variables were collected at both the micro/state actor level and the macro/international system level. At the macro level, seven dimensions of crisis were measured: crisis setting, crisis breakpoint-exitpoint, crisis management technique, great power/superpower activity, international organization involvement, crisis outcome, and crisis severity. Additional macro-level variables indicate various aspects of geography, polarity, system level, conflict type, power discrepancy, and involvement by powers. At the state actor level, variables measuring five dimensions of crisis were compiled: crisis trigger, state actor behavior, great power/superpower activity, international organization involvement, and crisis outcome. Additional micro-level variables indicate the role of war in each crisis. Others measure several kinds of state attributes: age, territory, regime characteristics, state capability, state values, and social, economic, and political conditions.

Brecher, Michael, and Wilkenfeld, Jonathan. International Crisis Behavior Project, 1918-2004. [distributor], 2007-12-14.

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1917-12-22 -- 2004-12-31
1977 -- 2004
  1. The two parts of this collection are linked by common identification numbers. The unit of observation for Part 1, which contains the macro-level data, is the international crisis. The unit of observation for Part 2, which contains the micro-level data, is the crisis actors involved. In all, the data cover 445 international crises involving 979 state actors. Both parts include non-numeric data.

  2. A full description of the datasets, coding procedures, case summaries, and analyses are contained in Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, A STUDY OF CRISIS, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2000. as well as the study Web site,

  3. Data for two cases in an ongoing/interim category, Iran Nuclear and North Korea Nuclear, were coded as pending. Coding is anticipated to be completed in the coming year.


Part 1: All international crises occurring between December 22, 1917, and December 31, 2004, characterized by the following two conditions: (1) a distortion in the type and an increase in the intensity of disruptive interactions between two or more adversaries, with an accompanying high probability of military hostilities, or, during a war, an adverse change in the military balance, and (2) a challenge to the existing structure of an international system -- global, dominant, or subsystem -- posed by the higher-than-normal conflictual interactions. Part 2: All foreign policy crises experienced by states due to their involvement in the international crises defined above. The principal investigators define a foreign policy crisis as a situation in which three conditions, deriving from a change in a state's external or internal environment, are perceived by the highest-level decision-makers of the state: (a) a threat to basic values, (b) an awareness of finite time for response to the external threat to basic values, and (c) a high probability of involvement in military hostilities.



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Brecher, Michael, and Jonathan Wilkenfeld. INTERNATIONAL CRISIS BEHAVIOR PROJECT, 1918-2004. ICPSR09286-v7. College Park, MD: Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, University of Maryland [producers], 2007. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2007-12-14.

2007-12-14 Crises for 2004 have been added to the dataset. These new crises are DRC-Rwanda (#444) and South Ossetia/Abkhazia (#445). For international crises, the GLOBACTM and GLOBEFAC variables now include an additional category for cases in which the global organization authorized the use of military force by members to enforce resolutions. This change also affects the actor level variable GLOBACT. Two potential protracted conflicts are on the watch list: DRC/Rwanda, and Georgia/Russia. We are currently evaluating the crises involving these pairs of states, and a definitive decision will be made by the next release. Two cases are in an ongoing/interim category: Iran Nuclear (2002) and North Korea Nuclear. These cases, each of which probably includes several crises, are expected to be coded during the coming year. As was the case with past releases of the ICB datasets, a number of minor coding changes have been made in earlier cases.

2006-05-15 Six new cases have been added for 2002 as well as the data producers's new coding changes. Also, a new set of 15 variables addressing the mediation of international crises has been added.

2004-05-13 The codebooks and SAS and SPSS data definition statements have been revised to reflect the data producer's new coding for the mediation variable at the international system level and minor corrections to several other variables.

2003-05-16 New data for the years 1995-2001 were added, and the codebooks were replaced.

1998-02-10 New data for the years 1989-1994 were added, and the codebooks were replaced. Also, SPSS export files were added to the collection.